North Korea Fires Four Missiles into Sea of Japan

North Korea has fired its fourth missile in two days despite international condemnation against the tests. Meanwhile, UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged a return to talks on the Korean peninsula to mitigate tensions.

North Korea fired Sunday’s guided missile into the East Sea (commonly known as the Sea of Japan) on Sunday, according to the South’s Defense Ministry. On Saturday, North Korea had fired three short-range missiles, apparently as part of a military drill.

The reported launches follow months of threats from North Korea of impending war with the US and Seoul. In February, a North Korean nuclear test sparked tougher UN sanctions.

Speaking during a visit to Moscow, UN chief Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister, called for the North to halt the missile tests, adding that the country should resume talks with the international community to reduce tensions.

North Korea Launches Rocket

North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Wednesday morning that appeared to reach as far as the Philippines, an apparent success for the country’s young and untested new leader, Kim Jong-un, and a step toward the country’s goal of mastering the technology needed to deliver a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Both South Korean and Japanese officials said the initial indications were that the first and second stages of the Galaxy-3 rocket, called the Unha-3 by the North, fell into the sea along a route the country had previously announced. But the timing of the launch appeared to take American officials by surprise. Just an hour or two before blastoff from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri on North Korea’s western coast, near China, American officials at a holiday reception at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Washington said they thought the North Koreans had run into technical problems that could take them weeks to resolve.For President Obama, the launching deepened the complexity of dealing with the new North Korean government, after four years in which promises of engagement, then threats of deeper sanctions, have done nothing to modify the country’s behavior.

Read the rest of the story: North Korea Launches Rocket, Defying Likely Sanctions.

Japan on Alert as North Korean Rocket Launch Window Opens

Japan says it’s on full alert over North Korea’s planned rocket launch despite a suggestion from Pyongyang that it could delay the much-criticised move.

North Korea says the launch, originally scheduled for December 10-22, could be changed ‘for some reasons’, giving no further details.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing a government official in Seoul, said on Sunday the North had stopped all preparations at the launch site in the country’s northwest.

Japan has deployed missile defence systems to intercept and destroy the rocket if it looks set to fall on its territory.

‘We are taking all possible measures for vigilance,’ Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told reporters as he entered his office on Monday before the launch window opened at 7am (0900 AEDT).

Defence Minister Satoshi Morimoto says Tokyo will keep a close eye on developments despite the comments from North Korea.

Read the rest of the story: Japan on alert as rocket window opens.

PAC-3s Okinawa-bound before North Korean launch

he Maritime Self-Defense Force transport ship Kunisaki left Monday morning from the MSDF base in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, carrying missile interceptors to be deployed in Okinawa for North Korea’s stated plan to launch a satellite.

The ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors are to be deployed at several locations in Okinawa. The Kunisaki and another MSDF transport, the Osumi, are to arrive at Okinawa in a few days.

North Korea announced Saturday that it plans to launch an “Earth observation satellite” between Dec. 10 and 22, following an unsuccessful attempt to launch a long-range rocket in April.

The first stage has been placed in position at the North’s Sohae launch station, a South Korean government source told Yonhap news agency.

Read the rest of the story: PAC-3s Okinawa-bound for North Korean launch.

Tokyo Concerned Over North Korean Missile

Recent U.S. satellite images shared with the Japanese government indicate that North Korea may be preparing to conduct another long-range missile launch in the near future. The images show the movement of similar equipment to what was used for a previous launch in April of this year. While the Pyongyang government claimed it was launching a satellite into orbit at the time, no such announcement have been made recently and analysts say a missile launch could take place in as little as three weeks.

Osamu Fujimura, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, stated on Monday that they will be closely observing North Korea’s activities and are increasing their efforts to gather information about any potential missile launches. The test that took place in April was ultimately a failure, as the rocket crashed into the ocean near the Philippines. However, the event was ultimately an embarrassment for the government which resulted in heavy criticism, as the public was already well-informed of the launch by media and the internet long before the Ministry of Defense stated a “flying object” was seen coming out of North Korean airspace.

North Korea’s last missile test resulted in outcry from Japan, which then called on the U.N. to impose stricter sanctions on the communist nation in an effort to persuade it to abandon its nuclear weapons development. Should Pyongyang be planning another test, it would should surely have a negative impact on the recently launched bilateral talks between the Japanese and North Korean governments. The two countries have already met twice in recent weeks to discuss issues of importance, most notably the abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korean spies, but more meetings are still to be arranged.

North Korea Preparing for Missile Launch

US satellites have picked up signs that North Korea is preparing to launch a long-range missile, a Japanese newspaper reported on Friday.

North Korea moved missile parts from its military factory in Pyongyang to a launch pad in Tongchang-ri in the country’s far northwest early November, the Asahi Shimbun said.

The US government has already informed its counterparts in Japan and South Korea about the move, the daily said, adding that the three countries had increased vigilance.

The developments came after North Korea carried out a failed rocket launch in April in what the state said was an attempt to put a satellite into orbit from the same launch pad.

According to the daily, images of the shipment recently taken by US satellites were similar to one used in the April launch.